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  • « Mo' money to hide gays = equality? | Main | The Week on GNW (Nov. 9-15) »

    November 15, 2008

    Protesting far from Prop 8

    Posted by: Chris

    Memphisprop8protest Memphisprotesters Several dozen young protesters showed up outside Memphis City Hall today to join the National Day of Protest in response to passage of gay marriage bans in California, Arizona and Florida -- as well as the ban just across the Mississippi River in Arkansas on gay couples adopting or foster parenting.

    Memprop8proThe most striking thing about the protesters -- besides the fact that there actually were protesters in a conservative city with a very closeted gay community -- was just how young they were. By the time I arrived, the initial gathering of around 100 and dwindled a bit, but I'd guess not a single one was much older than half my age (22, for those of you doing the math at home).

    The other thing that impressed me was just how many of them were straight and there simply to support their friends -- at least a third, I would guess.

    Did the protest make a difference? Well, downtown Memphis is fairly deserted on the weekend, and the temps were unseasonably cold -- easily in the 30s as the wind gusted down Mid America Mall. So City Hall was empty and the protesters far outnumbered curious passersby.

    Memphislogo_2But that's beside the point, in my mind. The primary benefit of protests is to energize and activate the protesters, and the young crowd was definitely not lacking for energy. Plus, the local media showed up, so Memphis will hear their voices.

    Finally, on a personal note, I got a lump in my throat as the protesters decided to walk down Mid America Mall, and we passed a landmark from my own past -- the William Len Building, where I lived almost 20 years ago, in the summer of 1990, when I worked for a law firm here.

    WmlenbuildingI was still deeply in the closet, and at least one year away from confiding in absolutely anyone in my life. To file past that same building with a group protesting for gay marriage made me smile. I've come a long way, baby.




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    1. susanj on Nov 15, 2008 7:07:12 PM:

      Hey Chris! I marched today here in LA, in solidarity with you and your young proteges Memphis(well, we didn't technically march, because it was really, REALLY hot, and our friends' children were fractious as a result, but we rallied and then went and drank Margaritas!). Oddly, the passage of Prop H8 seems to have re-written the meme here. Now, we are on the offensive. Rather than having weirdos like the Mormon church dictating the rules of the game, I think we're taking the dialogue back. Too bad it's too late for this election. But I think the energy I felt today will carry us through the next few years. The demographics are with us. To quote Casablanca: "Welcome back to the fight. This time, I know our side will win."

    1. Monique on Nov 15, 2008 9:06:08 PM:

      I was in Memphis today too, and, trust me, you weren't the only person whose age doubled 22, cause my partner and me are both your age. It IS wonderful to see how many young people were there, especially with the unseasonably cold weather. Most of the young people I encounter on a daily business--I teach--do not understand the big deal about gay marriage. They usually say it's nobody's business who marries, and the churches should butt out, so I do believe there's great hope for the future. Times may be changing slower than we'd like, but they are changing.

    1. The Scientist's View on Nov 15, 2008 9:37:58 PM:

      Great showing today for a cold day in Des Moines for the Gay Equality Rally.

      The Scientist's View

    1. mademark on Nov 16, 2008 10:09:49 AM:

      I stand proud today, proud of the young ones ('All the Young Dudes' anyone?) who will not wait for the likes of HRC to bring them equality.

      I just turned fifty. I remember well the first reports of a strange gay cancer in New York. I recall vividly the deaths of friends and of my lover in 1991. And then the silence, the slow begging of some small thing, as our opponents attacked us state by state. No longer. It is a new dawning, even if some of us will not live long enough to see it.

      Big thanks to Andrew Sullivan for being on the front line all this time. Take a rest now, my friend. The future has been seized.

    1. Laryssa on Nov 17, 2008 6:54:28 PM:

      Thanks so much for the info! Too Shy to Stop photographer Shaun Bell captured some really great photos from the Prop 8 protest in DC. You can view his photo essay here.

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